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real deal Declan Rice would be the perfect signing for Jurgen Klopp, yet he may now be too expensive

Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and the attacking side of the team are firing on all cylinders again.

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West Ham United's Declan Rice. PA Photo.

West Ham United's Declan Rice. PA Photo.

West Ham United's Declan Rice. PA Photo.

Declan Rice would be the perfect signing for Jurgen Klopp, yet I suspect the West Ham midfield general may now be too expensive for almost every club in world football.

Rice has emerged as one of the best holding midfielders in the Premier League, but the fact that he is now playing international football for England after annoyingly walking away from an Ireland career ensures his value has soared.

Jack Grealish's £100million move to Manchester City last summer highlighted the cost of signing English talent and Rice may command a similar fee now, which is why I say he will never be a target for Liverpool.

The reason why I feel a player of his ilk would be perfect for Liverpool is the defensive midfield has been a big problem when Fabinho has been out of the team,

The open and attacking football Klopp promotes leaves his team open to counter attacks and Fabinho is a master of breaking them up at source.

The problem is, the Brazilian's fitness record is not great and when he is absent, teams feel they have a chance to get at Liverpool's defence.

What we have seen in draws against Brentford, Man City and Brighton over the last few weeks is a Liverpool team getting into a winning position and not quite getting over the finishing line.

The centre-backs are not the problem because Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and, more recently, Ibrahima Konate have been good this season, but the structure of the team leaves Liverpool vulnerable to counter-attacks.

I watch the junior Liverpool teams playing as they all operate with the same attacking principles promoted by Klopp, which can leave them open to quick breaks from the opposition.

Klopp's philosophy has brought Liverpool great success and I'm not advocating big changes for a moment, but his team will always give opponents a chance.

I might be sounding a little negative here and I don't mean to be because the good news is Liverpool are very close to being back to the levels they were at when they won the Premier League a couple of seasons back.

Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and the attacking side of the team are firing on all cylinders again and just one big issue keeps tripping them up.

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Jurgen Klopp (left) and Mohamed Salah

Jurgen Klopp (left) and Mohamed Salah

Jurgen Klopp (left) and Mohamed Salah

The primary difference between the Liverpool team that won the title back in the 2019/20 season and Klopp's side is they are not quite converting draws into wins at the same rate.

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You look at the first half of the title-winning season and they were winning games when they were not at their best, which was piling the pressure on Manchester City.

Every time it seemed as if Liverpool might slip up in late 2019, they found a late winner to deflate their chief title rival and long before the end of a season that was disrupted by the Covid shutdown, they had the title in the bag.

What we have seen in draws against Brentford, Man City and Brighton over the last few weeks is a Liverpool team getting into a winning position and not quite getting over the finishing line.

What they need to do is be a little more clinical in front of goal when chances come their way and ensure that even if they do concede a goal, it won't cost them points.

The Brighton game last weekend was an example of a game that could have been over if Liverpool had taken their opportunities, but little moments in the game went against them and they end up with a 2-2 draw.

Dropping two points in a home game against a decent Brighton side could be costly at the end of the season and that's what Liverpool were not doing when they won the title a couple of seasons back.

Liverpool just need to finish teams off with a little more efficiency as there is no doubt they are knocking on the door of challenging for the big trophies once again.

After the slump in form at the start of 2021, Klopp will be pleased to have his team operating at this impressively high level once again and the fear factor Liverpool had when they won the title is back.

The other big difference from Liverpool's Premier League title-winning season is we have a new team in contention, with Chelsea emerging as contenders under their impressive boss Thomas Tuchel.

Man City will be in the mix in and they were clinical as they hammered a woeful Manchester United yesterday and I expect Chelsea to go close, despite their surprise 1-1 draw against Burnley yesterday.

Up to yesterday, Tuchel's side have been picking up three points in matches when they were not at their best, but they have opened the door for Liverpool now.

The Chelsea result makes today's game at West Ham vital for Klopp, as his side can close the gap at the top to one point with a win, but it won't be easy.

All credit to David Moyes because he has silenced plenty of doubters (myself included!) with the job he has done in his second spell as Hammers boss.

I managed against Moyes during my time as Tranmere boss and he's always been very good at getting teams set up with a simple formula that ensures everyone in the team knows their jobs.

That's what he has done at West Ham and in striker Michail Antonio, they have a player who has given them an attacking spark.

Rice is a class act in the midfield and the problems they had adjusting to life at their London Stadium appear to have been resolved.

West Ham are now an established top six team in the Premier League and Moyes can take a lot of the credit for that, so this will be a tough game for Liverpool today.

In normal circumstances, a draw in this game would not be a bad result for Klopp and his players, but they have already drawn too many times this season and need to get some big wins on the board.

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